St. John’s Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in Europe. It was built in the 12th century and it has been used as such until 1978. It is now the Memling Museum.
HOW THE HOSPITAL WAS
The exact date of foundation of St. John’s Hospital of Bruges is unknown, but there exists a document stating the hospital’s rules which dates back to 1138. In this document it is stated that the Brothers and Sisters from this hospital did not belong to any religious order with strict rules. Anyway, it is known nowadays as the oldest hospital in Europe.
This hospital was used not only to care for patients, but it also had the function of hosting passengers, pedestrians and pilgrims passing through Bruges. The wards from the 13th and 14th centuries are the oldest components of this long complex. Not all patients were accepted, since lepers, the mentally ill and contagious patients were transferred to other institutions.
There was a clear distinction in the tasks carried out by men and women. The Sisters were in charge of cooking caring for the sick, while the Brothers were responsible for the hospital administration.
In the 19th century a new modern hospital was built in this same site, but the ancient buildings were preserved.
THE HOSPITAL TODAY
Since 1978 the hospital was not used as such anymore, since a new hospital was built in Bruges.
Currently, St. John’s Hospital has become a place full of culture and history of the city of Bruges.
ONE OF THE BEST MUSEUMS IN BRUGES
Inside the building, in the hospital’s chapel, there is nowadays the Memling Museum. In this museum there are six works by Hans Memling from the 15th century, among which the most remarkable one is the St. Ursula Shrine. In this part of the building there is also the hospital’s museum, where you can find paintings, costumes and surgical instruments that describe how life in the hospital was.
Also worth mentioning is the pharmacy from the 17th century, which is very well preserved, showing its original appearance. The rest of the buildings correspond to conference rooms and temporary exhibitions. This pharmacy was used as such until less than 50 years ago.
Discover and learn more of the history of St. John’s Hospital with our tour in Bruges.
Mariastraat 38, 8000, Brugge.
- Open from Tuesday to Sunday: from 9:30 to 17:00 pm (entrance until 16:30).
- Open on Easter Monday and Pentecost.
- Adults: 8 €.
- Under 25 years and over 65 years: 6 €.
- Children under 11 years: free.
SOME NEARBY PLACES
- Church of Our Lady (10 m).
- St. Boniface’s Bridge (130 m).
- Walplein square (170 m).
- Gruuthuse Museum (180 m).
- Groeninge Museum (200 m).
- St. Salvator’s Cathedral (210 m).
- The Beguinage (450 m).